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For sale

Re BlackBerry Sells 90 Patents To Technology Giant Huawei (Letters, Jan. 13): This feels like an icky and “un-Canadian” decision by BlackBerry, now a shadow of its former, proudly Canadian technological triumphs. I guess that anything is for sale, even for a few measly bucks.

Marty Cutler Toronto

Mixed up

Re Ontario Faces Criticism For Mixed Messaging In New COVID-19 Plan (Jan. 13): Is more policing really the best use of resources right now? Will enforcement officers pull me over on the highway to ask where I am going? Will they demand the purpose of my walk through the neighborhood?

Doug Ford’s stay-at-home order seems delivered with more finger-wagging and threats that pit Ontarians against each other, rather than addressing systemic issues such as workplace spread or a failure to fortify long-term care homes with a promised iron ring.

Mr. Ford should stop calling me his “friend” while blaming the spread of COVID-19 on the modicum of social contact I judiciously preserve for the sake of my mental health. I believe this is happening because of the lack of resources allocated to institutions that need it – not my kid’s play dates.

Shannon Duncan Strange, Ont.

It should be obvious by now that Ontario’s pandemic response has been insufficient for a long time, because government regulations have been based on an incorrect model of human behaviour.

Take the illuminating example of traffic behavior: Whenever people believe there is no threat of being caught, many of them speed, run red lights, don’t yield or even drink and drive. This is enabled by a lack of enforcement and the common belief that bad things only happen to other people. Pandemic regulations are not much different. Issuing them without enforcement makes a mockery of them and often renders them ineffective.

Michael Drescher London, Ont.

Re Atlantic Provinces Fear Effects Of Transit Cuts (Jan. 11): It is true that Atlantic Canada is being punished for its quarantines by travel-dependent industries. But the economic and social rewards of such policies are also visible: Restaurants are open for dine-in service, retail stores are operating at half-capacity and children are back in school.

The Globe and Mail has consistently called for provinces to use quarantining, asymptomatic testing and contact tracing as tools to end the pandemic. So why represent a province such as Nova Scotia as an economic loser when adoption of these very measures has allowed it to reduce new COVID-19 cases to single digits and reopen the economy?

Christina Luckyj Halifax

Vaccine vexation

Re Ottawa Offers To Pay For Fast Vaccine Supply (Jan. 9): Epidemiologists and public-health experts have been clear: COVID-19 is more than likely not the last pandemic. All the more discouraging, then, to see the Canadian government forced to haggle with for-profit corporations for the best price on the most doses of life-saving vaccine.

Let’s say the government can provide vaccinations to “all Canadians who want one” by September. It should then be time for the Prime Minister to tell Canadians the full cost of securing those doses. Then he should tell us how his government plans to spend at least the same amount to create the publicly funded and owned non-profit capacity to ensure we are prepared to meet the next pandemic – and the one after that – robustly, sustainably and independent of the profit-driven dictates of the marketplace.

Murray Reiss Salt Spring Island, B.C.

Re Prisoner Priority (Letters, Jan. 11): A letter-writer points out that prisoners have human rights and should be prioritized for vaccinations. I will be 90 years old in four weeks and I have never been convicted of a crime. Do I not and others in my age group have human rights, too?

Shirley Williams Hamilton

What’s in a name?

Re Canada Can’t Continue To Give The Proud Boys A Free Pass (Jan. 12): One of the first things that should be done in addressing the issue of domestic terrorists is to refrain from using their preferred naming euphemisms, which usually support ideological myths regarding the etiology of these groups.

The “Proud Boys” are not boys, and they should have nothing to be proud of. I see them as a band of violent, mostly white and uniformly racist men who seek to upend democratically elected governments. They should be referred to simply as a domestic terrorist group.

Frank Malone Aurora, Ont.

Which way?

Re A Moral Compass Will Never Guide Air Canada’s Direction, Pandemic Or Not (Jan. 8): I find that columnist Rita Trichur beautifully captures Air Canada’s fondness for protection from competition, which the federal government has historically aided every step of the way. A key tenet of sound industrial policy should be the protection of competition, not the protection of competitors.

Nobel-winning economist Sir John Hicks wrote that “the best of all monopoly profits is a quiet life.” I hope that Ms. Trichur’s trenchant observations embolden federal decision makers to disturb Air Canada’s quiet life.

Louise Wood Portland, Ont.

Among those whose moral compasses are challenged during the pandemic, the offences of politicians and public servants whose salaries are paid by taxpayers are particularly offensive to me. Dominique Baker’s junket to Jamaica seems to show a lack of judgment.

Has it occurred to her that the trappings of a travel influencer – paid trips, gushing online posts – might present a conflict of interest with her public position at the Office of Border and Travel Health? Rather, she could be an influencer for her department, using social media to support health policy and travel warnings. But then she wouldn’t get free trips and that, one guesses, is not what Ms. Baker’s social-media profile is about.

I would also point out that even the privileged may occasionally act responsibly: So far, I have cancelled or not booked three trips to our house in Europe. But that’s life and one adjusts. I have comparatively little to complain about.

Manuel Mertin Calgary

Need to know

Re Toronto’s Connaught Laboratories Tests A New Diphtheria Toxoid (Moment in Time, Jan. 11): Connaught Laboratories’ successful tests in 1925 might have been to little avail without a massive public education effort, especially that directed by health authorities in Hamilton. Here, the death rate soon fell to zero.

Sadly, this spectacular success made little impression in Britain, where the efforts of anti-vaccinationists such as George Bernard Shaw delayed the introduction of diphtheria immunization for a decade. I joined them in 1941, at the age of 3. But the nurses held me down, kicking and screaming, and delivered the fateful jab!

Donald Forsdyke Emeritus professor, Biomedical and Molecular Sciences, Queen’s University; Kingston

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